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Laws protecting children from online porn are winning in some states as activists push nationwide solution

The legislative push to require all pornography websites to adopt age verification technology to protect children from being exposed to explicit content online is gaining momentum in more than a dozen states.

Seventeen states have enacted verification laws to date, including Alabama and Georgia, whose governors signed the porn ID laws last week. 

“We’re building momentum in the states, but the ultimate goal is to work with the next president,” Terry Schilling, president of the nonprofit think tank American Principles Project, told Fox News Digital in an interview this week.

“It needs to go national, and that’s the only way it makes sense because, you know, it’s a lot easier, and kids in America should be protected everywhere. You know, just because you live in California, doesn’t mean that your kid should be able to access this stuff.”

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Schilling, who has been meeting with legislators across the country to create this policy, has the backing of Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah. Lee introduced the Shielding Children’s Retinas from Egregious Exposure on the Net (SCREEN) Act last year, which, if passed, would direct the FCC to create a rule requiring certain websites adopt age verification technology, establishing a “more likely than not” standard for verification. 

Schilling and Lee have been working together to propel the legislation forward federally.

“All Americans can agree that pornography companies shouldn’t profit from children viewing their content,” Lee told Fox News Digital in a statement. “I’m glad that age verification laws are being adopted across the nation.”

According to the lawmaker’s analysis, pornography has “unique psychological effects” on minors, “including anxiety, addiction, low self-esteem, body-image disorders, an increase in problematic sexual activity at younger ages and an increased desire among minors to engage in risky sexual behavior.”

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Schilling said pornography has even gotten “weirder” as children are living more of their lives online than in previous decades and argued some explicit content on adult websites that includes “cartoon characters” is akin to tobacco companies targeting minors with fruity flavors.

“There’s been this lie that we’ve kind of adopted as Americans, and it’s just an over-focus on individualism,” Schilling said. “When little kids are getting access to porn, it changes them.

“It’s unsafe. I think that Pornhub having got caught hosting sex trafficking videos, and even child pornography on their site, all of this is at the forefront more.”

While there have been more wins at the state level, Schilling and Lee may be facing an uphill battle. Congress has passed several bills over the past three decades aimed at restricting children’s access to online pornography, according to Lee’s bill analysis. However, all the bills, except for one, were invalidated by the Supreme Court due to their failure to meet First Amendment standards. 

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In these cases, while the court acknowledged Congress’ valid interest in protecting children from explicit content, it found Congress hadn’t employed the least intrusive methods to fulfill this objective. The court even indicated personal “blocking and filtering software” might serve as a more lenient alternative.

But Schilling is confident that because he’s testified in several states with some success that “obscenity is not protected under the First Amendment,” and a national law could be in the country’s future. 

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